Arles – in the steps of Van Gogh


Amphitheatre and theatre

Arles developed at the fork, where the river Rhône splits before forming the gigantic delta known as the gigantic delta known as Camargue.

UNESCO listed Arles as a World Heritage Site in 1981.

Arles is not only one of the most attractive in Provence, a city with a rich historical and archaeological heritage.

It is also the ‘city of Van Gogh’.

Van Gogh indeed deserted Paris for Provence in February 1888!

He came to live in Arles where he painted some 300 of his most famous masterpieces.

These include Le Café de Nuit, l’Arlésienne and La Maison Jaune to name a few.

The city seem to have inspired many artists of the time.

One of them was Paul Gauguin who came to Arles in order to visit his old friend.


La Maison Jaune by Van Gogh

He immediately fell in love with the the region’s fabulous landscapes and light.

These seemed to have been indeed a great source of inspiration.

He indeed produced some of his best paintings while in the city!

Back to Van Gogh.

Did you know that his famous “ear severing” act and his decline into mental illness took place in Arles?

Van Gogh eventually took himself to the asylum in St-Paul-de-Vence in 1889.

Arles, the antic city



Arles boasts a unique historical and architectural heritage.

The town dates back to the 7th century BC.

It was then a major Phoenician trading port.

The Romans developed it during the 2nd and 1st centuries BC.

The digging of the canal that linked the city to the Mediterranean was one of the various improvement works they conducted.

Arelate, as it was then known, became a major port of the Gallia Narbonensis province.

This walled city stretched over 400,000m2.



It had its own amphitheatre, theatre, triumphal arch and arena.

Amazingly, most of these monuments are still standing.

The city was at its peak during the 4th/5th centuries AD.

The baths were built at that time.

They were fed with water carried on the Barbegal aqueduct and mill.

Their imposing vestiges can be seen in the nearby commune of Fontvielle.

A feat of Roman engineering, the aqueduct and its mill are considered ‘the greatest known concentration of mechanical power in the Ancient World’.


Barbegal Aqueduct

Modern day Arles is a cozy, really charming and has a beautiful ‘old feel’.

As you stroll along its maze of picturesque streets, you’ll discover elegant 17th century mansions and modern museums.

A lot to discover…

Looking for an Accommodation in the region?

Location: Department of Bouches du Rhône

More photos

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  • Arles-Place-de-la-Republique-city-hall


Coordinates and map: Lat 43.676647 – Long 4.627777

Credits: Text and most photos are © – Edited for and by TravelFranceOnline
Photos via Wikimedia Commons: The city from the sky by Saint-Zach is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 –  Maison Jaune by Van Gogh is in the public domainBarbegal aqueduct by Vi..Cult… is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0